University success takes more than IQ

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University success takes more than IQ

Academic achievement is as much about hope, self-regulation and curiosity as it is about intelligence, according to an expert from the University of Melbourne’s Graduate School of Education.

As students start a new university year, Associate Professor Lea Waters says they have more control over their academic outcomes than many believe.

“Most people think of academic achievement as purely a result of intelligence,” explains Associate Professor Waters, an expert in positive psychology. “But in fact new research is showing academic achievement is strongly influenced by personal strengths and positive practice.”

In particular, says Associate Professor Waters, the personal strengths of hope, self-regulation and curiosity predict academic achievement.

“Hope encourages goal setting,” she says. “When people set goals they make a regular effort to achieve them, and are also more able to recover from setbacks.

“Self-regulation encourages disciplined behaviour like setting a weekly timetable and sticking to it. In fact, self-regulation is a stronger factor in predicting academic success than intelligence. And curiosity is important because – as obvious as it sounds – being interested in your studies is key to academic success.”

As students start a new university year, Associate Professor Lea Waters says they have more control over their academic outcomes than many believe.

“Most people think of academic achievement as purely a result of intelligence,” explains Associate Professor Waters, an expert in positive psychology. “But in fact new research is showing academic achievement is strongly influenced by personal strengths and positive practice.”

In particular, says Associate Professor Waters, the personal strengths of hope, self-regulation and curiosity predict academic achievement.

“Hope encourages goal setting,” she says. “When people set goals they make a regular effort to achieve them, and are also more able to recover from setbacks.

“Self-regulation encourages disciplined behaviour like setting a weekly timetable and sticking to it. In fact, self-regulation is a stronger factor in predicting academic success than intelligence. And curiosity is important because – as obvious as it sounds – being interested in your studies is key to academic success.”

Positive psychology has also found that wellbeing is strongly linked to academic achievement.

“When we feel good we think more clearly; our levels of dopamine increase, which assists in attention, focus and memory” Associate Professor Waters explains. “So taking half an hour to go for a walk or see a friend for coffee strengthens our capacity for learning academic content at uni.”

Associate Professor Waters’ tips for integrating positive practices into daily life include:

  • Set clear goals and multiple pathways to achieve each goal.
  • Make time for mental stillness, including a daily ‘digital detox’ of at least 10 minutes.
  • Adopt a positive mindset and hunt for the good, no matter how small – this helps put life’s challenges into perspective.
  • Keep a journal reflecting on positive things that happened that day.
  • Foster positive and supportive relationships

According to Associate Professor Waters, these steps may seem simple but they are powerful.

“The wonderful thing we are learning from research is that really simple practises can enhance our wellbeing and academic achievement,” she says. “Best of all, these practises can be learned.”

Source: The University of Melbourne 

Date Created: March 2, 2013

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